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Marriages are challenged with familial responsibilities, financial issues and now some state a possible "divorce gene". In Stockholm, Sweden a scientist named Hasse Walum has led research associated with oxytocin (a hormone which affects bonding) and how the gene A-allele affects how women produce oxytocin.

Over 1,800 women and their partners were reported as being part of the five year study at the Karolinska Institute. As a result of the study, a correlation between females not producing proper amounts of oxytocin and the probability of them having a fifty percent higher chance of divorcing has come to light. In addition, partners of women who don't adequately process oxytocin have demonstrated a higher rate of being dissatisfied in their marriages.

Research indicates several areas where a lack of oxytocin may affect females. These areas range from a lack of intimacy with partners, difficulty in committing to intimacy and being challenged to stay in a marriage.

Oxytocin has been dubbed the love or cuddle hormone. Historically the gene was associated with women due to the fact that it is produced during childbirth and breastfeeding. More recent research shows that oxytocin has a more significant role in the lives of both women and men.

There are other ways to produce the hormone, such as through positive touch or using social media. Tweeting for more than ten minutes has been found to increase the levels of oxytocin in the brain.

Benefits of oxytocin include:

1. lowering blood pressure;

2. lowering stress hormone levels;

3. possible links to compassion and generosity;

4. increasing pain thresholds; and

5. increase in trust and decrease in fear.

Critics have stated several reasons for their skepticism in the latest DNA research and the media release of the data. The language used, according to the critics, is misleading. They state some of the media outlets have used words such as "proof" or "predict". The words used have been under attack because of their decisive nature. Some people feel that aside from the A-allele gene there are other factors which will predict a happy and healthy marriages. Other possible areas of contention are environment, culture, age and family background - aside from solely relying on biology.

Oxytocin is produced in males as well as females. The research in Stockholm was specifically targeting women. It will be interesting to learn about inadequate amounts of oxytocin in men.

If you feel your oxytocin levels may be low try something as simple as smiling to help bring it up. Other ideas include:

1. playing music you like;

2. a good meal; or

3. positive touch (i.e., hug or a massage).

If you believe you may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance please contact a health professional for assistance.

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